SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

For NFL's Western teams, a change in direction

His performance in the game was reminiscent of the one that the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre had on a Monday night in Oakland in the wake of his father's death.

Smith acknowledged Tevin's death on Twitter: "I can't believe my little brother is gone … be thankful for your loved ones and tell them you love them … this is the hardest thing ever."

Blowing the whistle

The NFL has asked its players and coaches not to publicly criticize the replacement officials, but the league will likely field some angry phone calls from teams after Sunday.

Among the miscues, Harbaugh was twice granted challenges after the he called timeout in the fourth quarter. Neither should have been allowed after Harbaugh asked for time, and the referee later admitted his mistake.

Also in that game, the 49ers were flagged for an illegal block in the back, even though they were the kicking team. Harbaugh went nuts, and the officials picked up the flag.

In both the Detroit Lions-Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals-Washington Redskins games, officials incorrectly marched off yardage on penalties. The Lions were penalized 27 yards for a helmet-to-helmet hit, and the Redskins were penalized 20 yards instead of 15 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Snap shock

The wildest play in Detroit's 44-41 overtime loss at Tennessee wasn't the Lions' Hail Mary touchdown at the end of regulation that forced the extra period.

It was a simple snap of the football.

The Titans took a three-point lead in overtime with a field goal, and the Lions had a chance to match that. Quarterback Shaun Hill — playing in place of the injured Matthew Stafford — drove Detroit deep into Tennessee territory, where he had a fourth and one at the seven.

In attempting to draw the defense offside, the Lions mistakenly snapped the ball then came up short on the run. Game over.

"Obviously there was a miscommunication," Detroit Coach Jim Schwartz said.

Ain'ts again

Hard to believe, but the New Orleans Saints maintained its dubious distinction as the NFC's only winless team, losing at home to the nine-point underdog Kansas City Chiefs.

The Saints led by 18 in the third quarter but frittered away that advantage and wound up losing in overtime, 27-24, when Ryan Succop kicked his team-record sixth field goal.

For those keeping score at home, that's Mr. Irrelevant — Succop, the last player selected in the 2009 draft — beating a suddenly irrelevant franchise.

According to NBC, since 1990, of the 113 teams that started 0-3, only three reached the postseason.

And it doesn't get easier for the Saints. They play at Green Bay on Sunday.

Fantasy phenom

CHICAGO